Provisions of the Constitution Act, 1867 (previously known as the British North America Act, 1867), mirrored in the provincial Constitution Act (R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 66), establish the fundamental principle that all expenditures and taxes within the province’s jurisdiction must be authorized by the Legislative Assembly. This is true whether a new provincial tax is proposed or an existing one revised, or if the government is seeking funding for a new or existing program.
All expenditures and taxes within the province’s jurisdiction must be authorized by the Legislative Assembly.
Section 47 of the provincial Constitution Act requires the Legislative Assembly’s authorization for all public expenditures and taxes and stipulates that any bill involving public expenditure or taxation must be accompanied by a Royal Recommendation, more commonly referred to as a message, from the Lieutenant Governor. A Royal Recommendation is obtained on the advice of the government (formally, on the advice of the Executive Council) and presented by the responsible Minister prior to the introduction of the bill. Specifically, section 47 of the provincial Constitution Act states:
47 The Legislative Assembly must not originate or pass any vote, resolution, address or Bill for the appropriation of any part of the consolidated revenue fund, or of any tax or impost, to any purpose that has not been first recommended by a message of the Lieutenant Governor to the Legislative Assembly during the session in which the vote, resolution, address or Bill is proposed.
Under the Constitution Act, 1867 (s. 102) and the British Columbia Terms of Union (s. 10), the provincial Consolidated Revenue Fund is established as the account into which government deposits authorized revenues and from which it withdraws funds to cover its authorized expenditures.290
B.C.’s statutory framework for financial processes continued to evolve in recent decades.
A framework of financial legislation has been adopted to support government administration and the requirement that the Legislative Assembly authorize all public expenditures and taxation. For example, the constitutional requirement for the Assembly’s approval of financial matters is reiterated in the provincial Financial Administration Act (R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 138, s. 21), which states that no payment may be made out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund without the authority of an appropriation. The Act also confirms the creation of the Consolidated Revenue Fund (s. 12) and defines a fiscal year as “the period from April 1 in one year to March 31 in the next year” (s. 1).
The Legislative Assembly has developed financial procedures and practices which establish a structured and flexible process for fulfilling its responsibilities.
The position of Auditor General was first created in British Columbia in 1913, though it was abolished and replaced with the Comptroller General in 1917. In 1976, the Legislative Assembly adopted the Auditor General Act (R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 23), establishing the Auditor General as an independent officer of the Legislature. The Act was repealed, replaced and modernized in 2003 with the Auditor General Act (S.B.C. 2003, c. 2). The updated Act includes a provision that an opinion be prepared and submitted to the Assembly by the Auditor General on whether government’s financial statements are in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles (s. 11). The position of Comptroller General continues to exist within the Government of British Columbia.
The Budget Transparency and Accountability Act (S.B.C. 2000, c. 23) requires more transparent and reliable budget forecasts and also establishes key dates in the annual provincial financial cycle by requiring a budget consultation process carried out by a parliamentary committee (s. 3), further outlined in this chapter, in section 12.3; the presentation to the Legislative Assembly of the government’s budget and the Main Estimates for the next fiscal year on the third Tuesday in February (s. 6); and the publication by August 31 of the Public Accounts summarizing government’s financial statements for the preceding fiscal year (s. 9).
The Legislative Assembly has developed financial procedures and practices which establish a structured and flexible process for fulfilling its responsibilities. This provides for extensive debate on the government’s budget as well as robust consideration of government estimates.
Key Standing Orders that frame the Legislative Assembly’s financial practices and procedures include Standing Order 45A, which sets out the time limits on speeches and the duration of debate on the main budget motion; Standing Order 60, which provides for a Committee of the Whole called “Committee of Supply” to be appointed in each Session to review and approve the government’s proposed expenditures, as outlined in the estimates; Standing Orders 66 and 67, reiterating the constitutional requirement 291 that any resolution or legislative initiative proposing public expenditures or taxation must first be recommended by a message of the Lieutenant Governor to the Legislative Assembly; and Practice Recommendation 10, outlining a streamlined procedure established in 1985 to consider supply bills for the appropriation of public funds.
Since 1992, the Legislative Assembly has adopted Sessional Orders authorizing the Committee of Supply to sit in two or more sections in order to provide more extensive scrutiny of the estimates. The Committee of Supply and its procedures are outlined in greater detail later in this chapter. Given the timing of the provincial fiscal year (April 1 to March 31), the work of reviewing and approving these expenditures typically takes place during the spring sitting period of the Legislative Assembly and, pursuant to the Sessional Orders appointing the Committee of Supply, may take place concurrently in the Chamber, the Douglas Fir Committee Room and the Birch Committee Room.
This chapter outlines the Legislative Assembly’s procedures and practices under which government expenditures are proposed, reviewed and adopted, as well as the rules and practices governing the introduction of bills that propose public expenditures and taxation.
12.2The Financial Cycle
The Legislative Assembly’s annual financial cycle is illustrated below.292
12.3Budget Consultation Process
Pursuant to the Budget Transparency and Accountability Act, an annual budget consultation process must be carried out by a select standing committee of the Legislative Assembly, which has typically been the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services.
An annual budget consultation process must be carried out by a select standing committee of the Legislative Assembly, which has typically been the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services.
Pursuant to the Act, the Minister of Finance must make public a budget consultation paper “not later than September 15 in each year” (s. 2(1)). The consultation paper must “present a fiscal forecast…indicate the key issues that the minister considers need to be addressed in the next budget, and…include information on how members of the public may provide their views on those issues” (s. 2(2)). On being made public, the paper stands referred to the committee, which must conduct public consultations and “make public a report on the results of those consultations” by November 15 of the same year (s. 3(2)). The committee’s report is presented to the Legislative Assembly or released by way of formal deposit with the Office of the Clerk during non-sitting periods.
12.4Budget Presentation and Debate
On Budget Day — which is the third Tuesday in February in British Columbia, as set in the Budget Transparency and Accountability Act (s. 6(1)) — the Minister of Finance moves the 293 main budget motion, which in B.C. takes the form “‘That the Speaker do now leave the Chair’ for the House to go into Committee of Supply.” The Minister will then table the estimates for the coming fiscal year (April 1 to the following March 31), with the requisite accompanying message from the Lieutenant Governor, and move “That the said message, and the Estimates accompanying same, be referred to the Committee of Supply.” This motion does not require notice, and, as such, leave is not required to move it.
In British Columbia, the provincial budget is presented on the third Tuesday in February.
The estimates outline proposed government expenditures by vote in distinct ministries and government agencies for the next fiscal year. Planned expenditures are presented as a series of proposed appropriations, by numbered votes corresponding to the spending areas within the various ministries and government agencies. It is accompanied by the Supplement to the Estimates, which provides additional information on salaries, grants, capital spending, travel and operations.
Following the tabling of the estimates, the Minister of Finance moves the main budget motion, which is traditionally seconded by the Premier, “‘That the Speaker do now leave the Chair’ for the House to go into Committee of Supply.” Standing Order 50 requires a seconder for this motion and for any amendments to this motion.
The Minister of Finance then delivers the Budget Speech, which outlines the government’s financial policies and priorities for the coming year. At the end of the Budget Speech, the Speaker recognizes the Official Opposition Finance Critic who, after some brief initial remarks, moves adjournment of debate, reserving the right to continue when debate resumes on the budget motion.
Prior to the Legislative Assembly’s adjournment on Budget Day, the Minister of Finance typically introduces a Budget Measures Implementation Act and moves first reading of that bill, and also tables Budget and Fiscal Plan documents, as well as ministry and Crown agency three-year service plans, as required by the provisions of section 13 of the Budget Transparency and Accountability Act.
STANDING ORDER 45A
In the House
Debate and Amendments
|(i)||Minister of Finance||2 hours|
|(ii)||Leaders of recognized opposition parties or designated Member thereof||2 hours|
|(iii)||Any other Member including leaders where a |
Member has been designated under (ii)
(1) The proceedings on the Orders of the Day for debate on the motion “That the Speaker do now leave the Chair” for the House to go into Committee of Supply, and on any amendments and subamendments proposed thereto, shall not exceed 6 sitting days (excluding the day the Budget is presented), comprising not less than 8 sittings.
(2) On the fourth of the said days, if an amendment or subamendment be under consideration at 30 minutes before the ordinary time of daily adjournment, the Speaker shall interrupt the proceedings and forthwith put the question on any amendment and subamendment then before the House, and no further amendments shall be in order.
(3) On the sixth of the said days, at 15 minutes before the ordinary time of daily adjournment, unless the said debate be previously concluded, the Speaker shall interrupt the proceedings and forthwith put every question necessary to dispose of the main motion.
Standing Order 45A sets out the maximum period for which Members may speak during various proceedings in the Legislative Assembly. Schedule 2 of Standing Order 45A outlines the specific time limits related to the budget debate and any amendments to that motion.
The Standing Order provides for a maximum of six sitting days, excluding the day on which the budget is presented, composed of at least eight sittings, to debate the motion “‘That the Speaker do now leave the Chair’ for the House to go into Committee of Supply.” Included in those six days is a maximum of four days to debate any proposed amendments (Schedule 2(2)). On the fourth sitting day, the Speaker interrupts proceedings 30 minutes before the ordinary time of daily adjournment and puts the question on any amendment or subamendment before the Legislative Assembly. No additional amendments may be moved after this time.
The Standing Orders provide for a maximum of six sitting days, excluding the day on which the budget is presented, composed of at least eight sittings, to debate the main budget motion.
The Standing Orders restrict Members’ speeches during the Budget Debate to 30 minutes — with the exception of the Minister of Finance and the leaders of recognized caucuses or their designate. The scope of the Budget Debate is wide-ranging. The expenditure details are not usually debated at this time; they are scrutinized within the Committee of Supply process. During the first Session of a new Parliament, the Budget Debate is an early opportunity for newly elected Members to make their inaugural speech — usually describing their backgrounds, highlighting matters of importance in their communities, thanking their constituents for the opportunity to represent them, and explaining why they chose to run for public office. The motion for the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne provides a similar opportunity for Members to make an inaugural speech.295
Standing Order 25 specifies that the Budget Debate is the second order of business for consideration by the Legislative Assembly under the Orders of the Day (after the Throne Speech Debate) on Monday afternoons and on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. However, although both these items retain their priority on the Orders of the Day, the government has the discretion, pursuant to Standing Order 27, to call other items of government business under the Orders of the Day in the order that it sees fit.
The main budget motion, “‘That the Speaker do now leave the Chair’ for the House to go into Committee of Supply,” is considered a confidence question.
Pursuant to Schedule 2(3), on the last day of the Budget Debate, 15 minutes before the ordinary time of the daily adjournment of the Legislative Assembly (Standing Order 2(1)), the Speaker interrupts proceedings and puts every question necessary to dispose of the main motion “‘That the Speaker do now leave the Chair’ for the House to go into Committee of Supply.”
In British Columbia, the main budget motion, “‘That the Speaker do now leave the Chair’ for the House to go into Committee of Supply,” is considered a confidence question. As with amendments to the motion for the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne, amendments to the budget motion are an opportunity for the Assembly to determine whether it has confidence in the government. The confidence convention is further outlined in Chapter 1 (Legislative Assembly Overview).
STANDING ORDER 66
The House will not receive any resolution stating an express or abstract opinion of the House on recommending the expenditure of public money unless recommended by the Crown.
Standing Order 66 prohibits Members from placing before the Legislative Assembly “any resolution stating an express or abstract opinion” on the expenditure of public funds, unless recommended by the Crown. The historical significance of this Standing Order is related to the ancient tradition that the Crown requests money, and Parliament decides whether to grant its disbursement, by initiation in the House of Commons.
The expenditure of public funds can only be considered by the Legislative Assembly upon a recommendation of the Lieutenant Governor.296
The effect of Standing Order 66 is that it prevents Members from placing before the Legislative Assembly abstract motions for the expenditure of public funds.
12.5.1Use of the Words “Give Consideration To”
Over the years, there have been various attempts to circumvent Standing Order 66 by adopting the words “consider the advisability of” and “give consideration to,” as evidenced by a number of Speakers’ decisions. Speaker Shantz noted the following in a decision (B.C. Journals, March 15, 1962, p. 117):
The question that must be resolved in motions framed with the terms “give consideration to” and “consider the advisability of” is whether or not the particular words adopted remove such motions from the prohibition expressed in Standing Order 66.
The decision of Mr. Speaker Irwin recorded in the Journals of this House (1952, Second Session, page 74) clearly indicates that motions so framed offend Standing Order 66, and accordingly I must rule that the motion of the honourable member for Fernie is out of order for the reason that, following the words of limitation, an expenditure of public monies is contemplated.
As outlined by Speaker Shantz, the words “consider the advisability of” and “give consideration to” do not save motions from the prohibitions outlined in Standing Order 66. Furthermore, Speaker Barisoff found that the words “of the creation” and “House support” also contravene Standing Order 66 (see B.C. Journals, September 14, 2009, p. 24).
12.5.2Message of the Lieutenant Governor
STANDING ORDER 67
It shall not be lawful for the House to adopt or pass any vote, resolution, address, or Bill for the appropriation of any part of the public revenue, or of any tax or impost, to any purpose that has not been first recommended to the House by Message of the Lieutenant-Governor in the Session in which such vote, resolution, address, or Bill is proposed. (Vide R.S.B.C. 1996, chap. 66, sec. 47 (Constitution Act)).
The provisions of Standing Order 67 stem from the Constitution Act, 1867, which apply to the provincial Legislative Assemblies. The requirement for appropriations to only be considered by message (Royal Recommendation) of the Lieutenant Governor is also contained in the provincial Constitution Act (s. 47).297
As Private Members cannot obtain such a recommendation, given that they do not enjoy access to the Crown for such purposes, the practical effect is that only Ministers are able to introduce any measures that involve the appropriation of public revenue or the introduction of any tax or impost.
The Speaker must determine, through a careful examination of the vote, resolution, address or bill, whether it necessarily involves taxation or expenditure, as it is a well-established principle that initiation of taxation and expenditure are Crown prerogatives.
Sometimes it is difficult to determine whether implementation of the vote, resolution, address or bill will result in additional expense or expenditure, and it has been held that an assurance one way or another from the Minister responsible may be considered by the Speaker in making the necessary determination (see B.C. Journals, January 25, 1968, p. 12; December 2, 1938, p. 93).
12.5.3Expenditure Arising by Implication
The expenditure of funds may not arise directly from the wording of the measure but may arise indirectly, as noted in a decision of Speaker Brockelbank of the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan (Saskatchewan Journals, December 23, 1975, pp. 100-1):
Standing on the Order Paper for Second Reading is Bill No. 18 — An Act respecting the Retail Service Station Trade. This Bill was introduced by the Hon. Member for Regina Wascana and received First Reading on December 18, 1975. The Bill received First Reading with the customary Speaker’s caveat that the Bill would be reviewed by the Chair to see if it was in order before consideration of the principle of the Bill by the Assembly.
I refer all Hon. Members to Rule 30 of the Rules and Procedures of the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan, 1970, as follows:
Any vote, resolution, address or bill introduced in the Assembly for the appropriation of any part of the public revenue, or of any tax or impost to any purpose whatsoever, or to impose any new or additional charge upon the public revenue or upon the people, or to release or compound any sum of money due to the Crown, or to grant any property of the Crown, or to authorize any loan or any charge upon the credit of the Province, shall be recommended to the Assembly by Message of His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor before it is considered by the Assembly.
It must be stressed that a Money Bill may be introduced but must have Crown Recommendation before it is considered by the Assembly.
The question now is whether the Bill actually involves the expenditure of money by the Crown. I have checked the said Bill carefully and refer all Hon. Members to Section 4 which provides for the appointment of a commission and Section 6 which allows the Executive Council to appoint employees for the commission. The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines “employee” as a “person employed for wages”. I refer all Hon. Members to the
Speaker’s Ruling of March 30, 1965 where he stated that “an appropriation of public funds within the meaning of our constitutional principle means an authority given by this Assembly to the Crown to pay money out of the consolidated fund.” Journals of the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan, March 30, 1965, p. 162.
It may be argued that there is no direct mention of the expenditure of money in either Section 4 or 6, but I find both sections give authority to the Executive Council to spend money out of the consolidated fund. Whether the Executive Council chooses to use this authority or not is not the issue. Since the authority to spend money is given in the Bill, it must be considered a Money Bill and requires a Royal Recommendation.
In support of this ruling, I refer you to Sir Erskine May’s Parliamentary Practice, Seventeenth Edition, pp. 781 and 782. “The most frequent case of expenditure of this type is that of charges upon moneys to be provided by Parliament for salaries and other expenses caused by the imposition of novel duties upon the executive government by the legislation of the session.” And further, May lists the following examples of charges imposed upon moneys to be provided by Parliament:
1. The expenses connected with the establishment of a new department.
2. The expenses arising out of the imposition of new duties on an existing department or authority.
3. A charge is also involved by any proposal whereby the Crown would incur a liability or a contingent liability payable out of moneys to be voted by Parliament….
The requirement that a Money Bill must have a Crown Recommendation is an important principle of responsible government. I quote from the Speaker’s Ruling, March 24, 1966, as follows:
It is my firm belief that those charged and entrusted by the people with the work of raising the provincial revenues must be the sole arbiters of the institution of new or additional expenditures and that the privilege of initiating legislation which will be a new or increased charge upon the people must therefore be the absolute prerogative of the Government. Journals of the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan, March 24, 1966, p. 194.
I therefore rule Bill No. 18 out of order on the grounds that it is a Money Bill and it does not have a Crown recommendation.
12.5.4When Objection May Be Taken
The time for objecting to a bill that requires the appropriation of public revenue that is not accompanied by a Royal Recommendation is at second reading, and not on introduction (see B.C. Journals, November 17, 1939, pp. 39-40).299
It has been the practice in the Legislative Assembly to permit the proponents of Public Bills in the Hands of Private Members (Private Members’ bills) a brief opening statement on second reading before ruling on the bill, but the Chair has the right at any time to decide whether or not the bill conforms to the rules, as noted in a decision of Speaker Barisoff (B.C. Journals, October 23, 2007, p. 130):
There appears to be some uncertainty in relation to the longstanding practice of debates on Public Bills in the Hands of Private Members. Such bills have strict limitations procedurally and, in this regard, I refer Members to Standing Order 67 and the considerable body of jurisprudence emanating from this Standing Order.
Public Bills in the Hands of Private Members have on innumerable occasions been introduced and permitted to proceed to second reading, notwithstanding such bills may have a flaw preventing the adoption of the measure. As purely a matter of courtesy, the proponents of such bills have been permitted to speak briefly to second reading outlining the thrust of such a bill, but on a point of order being raised, or in the absence of such a point of order being raised, it is the Speaker’s duty to advise the Members that the Bill in the Hands of a Private Member, cannot proceed further and the bill is accordingly ruled out of order. Members will understand that it would be totally inappropriate for the Chair to allow a bill to proceed to a vote on second reading, when the bill itself contained a fatal flaw as prescribed in our Standing Orders and in numerable Speakers’ rulings in this House.
Many jurisdictions in the Commonwealth do not even permit such a bill to proceed beyond first reading and such bills are removed from the Order Paper after introduction. No opportunity to speak to second reading is provided. The practice of this House has been somewhat more benign and as I stated earlier, the proponents of such flawed bills, as a matter of pure courtesy, have been permitted a limited time to speak on second reading before the bill is ruled out of order.
The Chair is prepared to continue this practice, as long as the Members clearly understand that a Bill in the Hands of a Private Member which does not conform to the well-established rules of this House cannot proceed to a vote. As there are several grounds on which a Public Bill in the Hands of a Private Member may be out of order, sponsors of such bills may wish to check with the Clerks before second reading to see if their bill contains one of the flaws which would prevent the bill from moving forward.
Let it be clear, however, that it is the Speaker and the Speaker alone who has been given the authority and responsibility to rule a bill out of order on procedural grounds.
The words “adopt” and “pass” are used in Standing Order 67. This does not amount to a prohibition against introduction of a measure which may ultimately offend the provisions of the provincial Constitution Act and Standing Order 67. While the words “adopt” and “pass” are often used interchangeably by parliamentary jurisdictions, it has been said that a bill is adopted on its second reading and passed on its third reading.300
12.5.5Definition of “Impost”
The definition of “impost” is explored in a notable decision of Speaker Whittaker (B.C. Journals, November 28, 1939, p. 77):
The Honourable the Premier has raised a point of order with reference to Bill No. 44, standing on the Order Paper in the name of the honourable Member for Comox.
Section 2 of the Bill provides that if more than twenty persons are employed in any mine below ground, accommodation shall be provided to enable the employees to wash themselves and dry and change their clothes, and that such accommodation shall not be in the engine-room or boiler-house.
The question is whether this would result in an impost within the meaning of Standing Order 67.
I have carefully considered the suggestion of the honourable Leader of the Opposition that the word “impost” is used in Standing Order 67 in the sense of a “tax”. Murray’s Dictionary defines impost as “a tax, duty, imposition, tribute; specifically, a customs duty levied on merchandise.” The legal dictionary, Words and Phrases Judicially Noted, which will be found in the Provincial Library, says:
“Impost” is a duty on imported goods and merchandise. In a larger sense, it is any tax or imposition.
“Tax”, on the other hand, has a much more restricted meaning. It is defined in Murray’s Dictionary as “a compulsory contribution to the support of the government.”
I feel bound to give effect to the word “impost”: (1) Because if the Legislature had intended it only in the sense of governmental revenue, the word “tax” would have been sufficient to express that intention. (2) The Legislature could not have used the word in the restricted sense of a customs duty levied on merchandise, because the Provincial Legislature has no jurisdiction in that field. (3) I am bound by previous Speakers’ decisions in this House, e.g., the decision of Mr. Speaker Perry, B.C. Journals, 1936 (1st Session), 125.
To provide the accommodation required by the Bill would undoubtedly involve a charge upon a section of the people. I think it is immaterial whether this charge would fall upon the employer or upon the employee.
I have no choice, therefore, but to rule the Bill out of order.
The definition of “impost” was further addressed in a decision of Speaker Richmond (B.C. Journals, April 17, 2002, p. 87):301
On examination of the questioned bill, the proposed amendment to section 13 of the Act has two paragraphs, paragraph (a) which repeats verbatim section 13 (5) of the existing Act and paragraph (b) which presents a novel proposition which I quote:
(b) A licence shall not be issued or re-issued under this part for the purpose of finfish aquaculture unless that operation is a closed containment facility.
The key question for the Chair to consider is whether or not the proposed section 13(5)(b) as quoted above amounts to an impost and, in the absence of a Message, is out of order by virtue of the provisions of Standing Order 67.
In this regard, the Chair has found considerable assistance in the decision of Mr. Speaker Whittaker reported in the Journals of this House on November 29, 1939, page 77. In that case, Speaker Whittaker was required to make a determination as to whether a bill before the House requiring provincial mines to provide certain accommodation to employees was in order. The learned Speaker examined in considerable detail the distinction between “impost” and “tax” as contemplated by Standing Order 67 and concluded that the requirement to provide accommodation under the proposed bill “would undoubtedly involve a charge upon a section of the people.” The view as stated by Speaker Whittaker was adopted by later decisions of the House including a decision by Speaker Irwin reported in the Journals of the House, October 17, 1953, at page 72, and a further decision by Speaker Hartley reported in the Journals of this House on April 3, 2001, at page 42. I note that Standing Order 67 in 1939 is identical in wording as Standing Order 67 today.
In the result the Chair has had to resolve two questions:
1. Is the Chair obligated to examine the bill as a whole, notwithstanding that the point of order raised does not identify with exactitude the potential flaw in the bill?
2. Does the proposed subsection (b) of the bill create an impost as contemplated by Standing Order 67?
Conventions relating to the duty of a Presiding Officer and precedents of this House produced an answer in the affirmative to both questions.
The practical effect of enacting subsection (b) as proposed would be to require those engaged in finfish aquaculture to convert to a closed containment facility. The result would, to quote the words of Speaker Whittaker, “involve a charge upon a section of the people” and, therefore, the bill is out of order in the hands of a Private Member, and I so rule.
12.5.6Affecting Crown Revenue: When Bills, Resolutions and Other Measures Are Out of Order
A bill, resolution or other measure that would affect Crown revenues has been ruled out of order (see B.C. Journals, April 3, 1946, pp. 73-4).
There are a number of B.C. Speakers’ decisions which stand for the proposition that a motion or bill reducing or interfering with Crown revenues will be out of order without a Royal Recommendation — i.e., introduced by a Private Member (see B.C. Journals, October 22, 2007, p. 128; October 27, 1972, pp. 39-40; April 2, 1971, p. 228; March 31, 1966, p. 214; March 20, 1964, p. 178).
However, the current approach considerably relaxes this practice. Erskine May states:
No special form of procedure applies to proposals to reduce existing expenditure or the scope of existing purposes of expenditure, and such proposals may be moved in the House or in committee without recommendation from the Crown.
A proposed reduction of expenditure may consist in lowering a stated amount, restricting the object of expenditure, inserting limiting conditions, or shortening the period during which expenditure is to be incurred. (25th ed., §35.15, p. 893).
In the Canadian House of Commons, a Royal Recommendation is not required for a bill whose effect is to reduce taxes otherwise payable (see House of Commons Procedure and Practice, 3rd ed., p. 838). A decision by Speaker Parent of the House of Commons of Canada determined that the repayment of tax revenues already received was not an appropriation of public money (see House of Commons (Canada) Hansard, October 16, 1995, p. 15410).
The current approach, including how the applicability of these provisions is treated in British Columbia, is reflected in a decision of Speaker Rolfes of the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan (Saskatchewan Votes and Proceedings, March 9, 1993, p. 41):
Yesterday, the Government House Leader raised a point of order that Bill No. 10 — An Act to Protect Municipal Property Taxpayers in the Province of Saskatchewan proposed by the Member for Rosthern was out of order. It was the Minister’s impression that because the bill involved the repeal of a tax, it required a royal recommendation. Not having seen the bill, I reserved my ruling.
Rule 33 of this Assembly outlines the constitutional requirement that in matters involving proposed charges upon the public revenue, or charges upon the people, the crown initiative must be expressed through a royal recommendation:
33. Any vote, resolution, address or bill introduced in the Assembly for the appropriation of any part of the public revenue, or of any tax or impost to any purpose whatsoever, or to impose any new or additional
charge upon the public revenue or upon the people, or to release or compound any sum of money due to the Crown, or to grant any property of the Crown, or to authorize any loan or any charge upon the credit of the Province, shall be recommended to the Assembly by Message of the Lieutenant Governor before it is considered by the Assembly. The consideration and debate thereof may not be presently entered upon but shall be adjourned until such further day as the Assembly shall think fit to appoint.
According to the well-established practice, however, provisions involving the reduction of charges or the reduction of taxation do not require a royal recommendation. I refer Members to a ruling of the Chair dated May 26, 1978, which states, in part: “while a private Member may not introduce a resolution or bill to increase a charge...any Member may move to reduce a charge, expenditure or a tax.”
In addressing the rules of financial procedure, Erskine May specifies those matters which involve money but do not necessarily require an expression of the crown initiative. I point out that the principles outlined by May form the broad basis of financial practice in this Legislative Assembly. On page 805, of the Twentieth Edition of Erskine May’s Parliamentary Practice, it is specified that a bill which seeks to abolish or reduce a charge authorized by existing law does not require a royal recommendation. Similarly, May indicates on page 825 that provisions for the repeal or reduction of taxation are not subject to the rules of financial procedure. This, or course, is wholly consistent with the more generally known principle that allows Members of this Assembly to move amendments in committee to reduce an estimate, or monetary provisions in a bill. I refer Members to Beauchesne’s Parliamentary Rules and Forms, 6th Edition, page 260, and page 267, which outlines these procedures.
The purpose of the bill introduced yesterday by the Member for Rosthern is to abolish an existing tax, through the repeal of The Hospital Revenue Act. The repeal of a tax, as I have indicated, is not subject to the requirements of Rule 33. For this reason I find the point of order not well taken and the Bill to be in order.
12.6Committee of Supply
STANDING ORDER 60
The Committee of Supply shall be appointed for the Session on motion without previous notice.
The Minister of Finance typically moves the motion appointing the Committee of Supply, which is a committee comprised of all Members except the Speaker. It is tasked with examining in detail and approving the expenditures in the estimates.304
By longstanding practice, a motion for the appointment of the Committee of Supply, which typically takes the form of a motion that the Legislative Assembly resolve itself into a Committee of Supply for the Session, is neither debatable nor amendable (see B.C. Journals, July 6, 1983, p. 25; February 7, 1967, p. 47; see also Erskine May, 17th ed., p. 749).
The Committee of Supply is a committee comprised of all Members, except the Speaker, tasked with examining in detail and approving expenditures in the estimates.
12.6.1Referral of Estimates to a Select Standing Committee
STANDING ORDER 60A
At any time after the Estimates have been referred to the Committee of Supply, the Government House Leader may refer Votes within the Estimates to a Select Standing Committee upon motion without notice. Such motion shall be decided without amendment or debate.
Standing Order 60A, added in 1985, is parallel to Standing Order 78A, and the combined effect of the two Standing Orders is to permit specific votes in the estimates, as well as bills (under Standing Order 78A), to be referred to a select standing committee for consideration.
The Government House Leader may move a motion without notice to refer votes within the estimates to a select standing committee at any time after the estimates have been referred to the Committee of Supply. Such a motion is best moved after consultation, as reflected in Practice Recommendation 6, and is decided without amendment or debate. Although the provisions of Standing Order 60A to make such a referral of a specific vote within the estimates to a select standing committee have not been used to date in the Legislative Assembly, the opportunity to do so remains.
12.6.2Sessional Order Permitting the Committee of Supply to Sit in Two or Three Sections
Since 1992, a Sessional Order has authorized the Committee of Supply to sit in two sections — one, called Section A, “to sit in such Committee Room as may be appointed from time to time,” typically the Douglas Fir Committee Room, and the other, Section B, to sit in the Chamber (see B.C. Journals, March 1, 2018, pp. 27-8).
Since 2012, the Legislative Assembly has, from time to time, authorized a third section of the Committee of Supply, called Section C, permitting three sections of the Committee of Supply to sit concurrently, the third using the Birch Committee Room (see B.C. Journals, May 14, 2018, p. 82; May 11, 2015, p. 85; May 26, 2014, p. 90; July 11, 2013, p. 25; May 15, 2012, p. 132).305
The Sessional Order permitting the Committee of Supply to sit in two or three sections has varied slightly from year to year and reflects a range of approaches. For example, the number and allocation of Members is typically reflective of party standings in the Legislative Assembly. Such Sessional Orders have also included a provision whereby “a Minister may defer to a Deputy Minister to permit such Deputy to reply to a question put to the Minister” in proceedings of Section A or C (see B.C. Journals, March 1, 2018, p. 28). Provisions to allow a Deputy Minister to respond on a Minister’s behalf have been infrequently used (see B.C. Hansard, May 7, 2019, p. 9006; August 7, 1996, p. 1622).
A Sessional Order frequently authorizes the Committee of Supply to sit concurrently in up to three sections: Section A to sit in the Douglas Fir Committee Room, Section B to sit in the Chamber, and Section C to sit in the Birch Committee Room.
There are a number of noteworthy Speakers’ decisions pertaining to the Sessional Orders relating to the Committee of Supply. Broadly speaking, these decisions are authority for the following propositions:
1. When estimates are sent to Section A, the Legislative Assembly remains intact to do any such business which may properly be brought before it. The Assembly may also consider motions, proceed to debate on a bill at second reading or declare a recess. It may resolve itself into Committee of Supply for estimates or Committee of the Whole for committee stage of bills, and it may also proceed to a recorded division on a matter before the Legislative Assembly or a Committee of the Whole (see B.C. Journals, May 23, 1995, p. 61; April 27, 1993, p. 147).
2. All Members of the Legislative Assembly are entitled to sit in on proceedings in Section A, but only Members designated by the Legislative Assembly to make up Section A, or their authorized substitutions, may vote in Section A (see decision of Speaker Barnes, B.C. Journals, April 12, 1994, pp. 44-5).
3. The Sessional Orders have provided that proceedings in Section A shall be suspended when a division is called in Section B. If a division is in progress in Section A when a division is called in the Chamber (Section B), the division in the Chamber will be delayed until the division in Section A is completed (see B.C. Hansard, July 29, 1996, p. 1091). The rationale for this position is that as all Members of the Legislative Assembly are deemed to be Members of Section B, they are therefore entitled to vote in Section B (further outlined in section 12.7.8).
4. The dividing of the Committee of Supply into Sections A and B, under the Sessional Order in question, does not constitute a question of privilege (see decision of Speaker Barnes, B.C. Journals, April 12, 1994, pp. 44-5).306
On previous occasions, the Legislative Assembly has granted leave to permit Section A to consider a portion of an estimates vote at the same time Section B was considering other portions of the same vote (see B.C. Journals, May 15, 2003, p. 103).
12.7Proceedings in the Committee of Supply
12.7.1Order in Which Votes Are Called
The Minister whose estimates are being considered is not bound by the order and arrangement of the votes within the Estimates book; the grants for supply may be considered in the Committee of Supply in such order as the Minister sees fit (see Erskine May, 17th ed., p. 758), which is a long-established and recognized practice in the Legislative Assembly. In keeping with the spirit of consultation reflected in the Practice Recommendations, Ministers may wish to consult with Members of the opposition to ensure that the appropriate critic and any other Members wishing to participate in the estimates debate on a specific matter within a vote are able to be accommodated. This also helps ensure that Ministers are accompanied by appropriate staff to assist the Minister with answering questions.
12.7.2Time Management in the Committee of Supply
The Standing Orders do not provide for overall time limits for the Committee of Supply and the estimates process. There is no time limit within which the consideration of a certain vote must conclude. The sequence in which ministries are considered, the time allotted per ministry and the overall time spent in the estimates debates are ultimately determined by the Government House Leader, often through consultation with the House Leaders of other recognized caucuses. This provides for a high degree of flexibility to accommodate emerging or changing legislative priorities and allows the Legislative Assembly to prioritize the time allocated for consideration of specific government estimates.
The supply process can be lengthy and detailed, providing Members the opportunity to review all government ministries by asking questions about ministry plans and proposed spending.
In B.C., the practice of authorizing the Committee of Supply to sit in two or three sections, the ability for all Members to participate, and the flexibility to set priorities with respect to the allocation of time for specific ministries provide for robust consideration of the estimates. For example, between 2015 and 2019, the average length of overall estimates debate was 178 hours, or approximately eight hours on average for each ministry. In 2019, Ministers appeared for between three and 18.5 hours.307
If there is no agreement as to when debate on certain estimates or bills will conclude, the government can use procedures to bring debate to a conclusion, such as closure under Standing Order 46 or time allocation under Standing Order 81.1. Closure is outlined in detail in Chapter 7 (Rules of Debate), and time allocation is outlined in detail in Chapter 10 (Legislative Process).
12.7.3Scope of Debate
The supply process can be lengthy and detailed, providing Members the opportunity to review all government ministries by asking questions about ministry plans and proposed spending, and to consider and approve the money requested by the government. Debate should be relevant to the matter which is contained in the estimates being considered.
The Minister responsible is present to answer questions, with the assistance of senior public servants from the ministry or senior officials from other government entities. When there are no further questions, a vote is held to determine whether the government’s expenditures in the ministry in question should be approved.
STANDING ORDER 61
(2) Speeches in Committee of the Whole must be strictly relevant to the item or clause under consideration.
For many years, B.C. practice has been to debate the general administration and expenditures of a ministry under the first vote in the ministry’s estimates. Specific areas provided for in later votes within the ministry were debated when such votes were called, and the Chair did not permit those matters to be debated under the first vote. This is not an incorrect application of the “relevancy rule.” However, the form of the estimates has changed, and, therefore, a broadening debate under the Minister’s operational expenditures has become accepted practice.
The practical dilemma facing a Member is one of time. If a Member from an opposition caucus or the Government Caucus wishes to speak to a particular vote within the ministry and the “relevancy rule” is being strictly enforced, the Member must remain in the Chamber or committee room for the debate on the earlier votes in the ministry to be sure not to miss the vote that the Member wishes to speak to when it is called. If, however, Members are allowed to speak to the subject matter of the particular vote during debate on the earlier vote, they are less restricted in terms of being tied to the Chamber or the committee room. Current practice has reduced the burden of this restriction.308
12.7.5Certain Matters Not in Order to Debate in the Committee of Supply
The necessity for legislation cannot be discussed in the Committee of Supply, in keeping with the rule of anticipation, further outlined in Chapter 7 (Rules of Debate). Debate relating to bills before the Legislative Assembly is also out of order in the Committee of Supply, as such debate should take place during the legislative stages of consideration of the particular bill.
The conduct of certain “high public servants” cannot be discussed in the Committee of Supply. High public servants traditionally include the Sovereign and the Royal Family, the Governor General, the Lieutenant Governor, the Speaker, Presiding Officers and judges, whose conduct can only be discussed by way of a substantive motion (see Erskine May, 25th ed., §21.23, pp. 495-6). Standing Order 40(1) also prohibits disrespectful language in debate towards such individuals.
12.7.6Speaking Time Limits
STANDING ORDER 45A
Committee of Supply
|(i)||Leaders of recognized parties
designated Member thereof
|one opening statement not exceeding 30 minutes — thereafter, 15 minutes|
|(ii)||Any other Member including a leader when another Member has been designated under (i)||15 minutes|
At the start of each meeting of the Committee of Supply, the Chair will recognize the Minister whose estimates are being considered, who must move a designated vote within that Minister’s estimates to begin debate.
Standing Order 45A, Schedule 5, provides that the leaders of recognized caucuses, or a leader’s designate, may make an opening statement not exceeding 30 minutes at the first meeting of the Committee of Supply considering the estimates of a specific ministry. The Minister, after moving the motion, will make an opening statement and will typically use this time to introduce government officials in attendance, and to outline the work of the ministry. The critics of recognized opposition caucuses will then make their opening statements, which cannot exceed 30 minutes. All other remarks in the Committee of Supply are limited to 15-minute interjections per Member at any one time.
The following general rules apply to proceedings in the Committee of Supply, as outlined in Erskine May:309
Except in the manner of proposing the question upon an amendment…the procedure of the Committee of Supply follows the ordinary usage of a Committee of the whole House. No amendment can be moved which is not relevant to the grant under consideration. The votes must be considered in the order in which they stand on the Paper [note: in British Columbia, the order in which the votes in any ministry are to be called does not appear on the Order Paper, and therefore the Minister’s latitude is unfettered]. Any vote may be passed over and not moved; but a motion for postponing a proposed resolution cannot be entertained. Each resolution for a grant forms a distinct motion, which can only be dealt with by being agreed to, reduced, negatived, superseded, or, by leave, withdrawn; and the withdrawal can be made, although the decision of the Committee has been taken upon amendments proposed to the resolution. Here the power of the Committee ceases. The Committee may vote or refuse a grant, or may reduce the amount thereof, either by a reduction of the whole grant, or by the omission or reduction of the items of expenditure of which the grant is composed; but the Committee have no other function. (17th ed., p. 759).
In recent years, the practice in the Committee of Supply in the Legislative Assembly has been somewhat more relaxed. The Chair has permitted debate on a particular vote within a ministry to be postponed pending arrival of government officials, or for such other reason as the Chair may consider appropriate, typically with the consent of the Minister.
12.7.7Vote Cannot Be Increased or Destination Altered
An amendment to increase the sum specified in a vote cannot be moved by a Minister or any other Member in the Committee of Supply; an amendment may only be introduced in the Legislative Assembly by a Minister by message (see B.C. Journals, February 17, 2011, p. 10). Beauchesne notes:
The guiding principle in determining the effect of an amendment upon the financial initiative of the Crown is that the communication, to which the Royal Recommendation is attached, must be treated as laying down once for all (unless withdrawn and replaced) not only the amount of the charge, but also its objects, purposes, conditions and qualifications. In relation to the standard thereby fixed, an amendment infringes on the financial initiative of the Crown not only if it increases the amount but also if it extends the objects and purposes, or relaxes the conditions and qualifications expressed in the communication by which the Crown has demanded or recommended a charge. (6th ed., §596, pp. 183-4).
The Committee of Supply cannot attach a condition or an expression of opinion to a grant or alter its destination (see Erskine May, 17th ed., p. 759). A vote may only be reduced (see Erskine May, 25th ed. §34.30, p. 878; see also B.C. Hansard, June 12, 1986, pp. 8709-10; B.C. Journals, June 12, 1986, pp. 91, 96).310
House of Commons Procedure and Practice outlines:
A committee may not increase the amount of a vote, change the destination of a grant or change the destination or purpose of a subsidy, as this would exceed the terms of the royal recommendation and infringe on the financial initiative of the Crown. A committee may move to reduce a vote by an amount equal to that set aside in the estimates for a program or activity to which the committee is opposed. Members cannot propose a motion to reduce a vote by its full amount; the procedure is simply to vote against the question as to whether the vote shall carry. (3rd ed., p. 875).
All Members may participate in Committee of Supply proceedings and may access all designated sections of the Committee of Supply. However, only designated Members who are specifically named in the motion creating Sections A and C, or their authorized substitutions, are permitted to vote in those sections. All Members may vote in Section B, as all Members of the Legislative Assembly are deemed to be Members of Section B.
The Sessional Order establishing the Committee of Supply, Sections A and C, usually outlines that divisions called in Section A, in the Douglas Fir Committee Room, are signaled by the ringing of the division bells four times, and those called in Section C, in the Birch Committee Room, by the ringing of the bells five times. Divisions called in Section B, in the Chamber, are signaled by the ringing of the division bells three times.
While Sessional Orders adopted in the past have not specifically prohibited divisions being called simultaneously in both Sections A and B, they have stated that Section B shall be composed of all Members of the Legislative Assembly. As all Members are entitled to vote in Section B, any proceedings in Sections A or C must be suspended when a division is called in Section B, in order to enable all Members to participate in the vote. If a division is in progress in Section A when a division is called in Section B, then the division in Section B will be delayed until the division in Section A is completed (see B.C. Hansard, July 29, 1996, p. 1091).
Further information on divisions in the Legislative Assembly is outlined in Chapter 8 (Voting and Divisions).
12.7.9Report from the Committee of Supply
Practice Recommendation 10 is complementary to the changes to the Standing Orders adopted in 1985, eliminating the Committee of Ways and Means, and replaces 18 motions that were formerly required under that process.
When the Committee of Supply is unable to complete its business at the conclusion of a sitting, the Committee will adopt a motion to report progress and to seek leave to sit again. Pursuant to Standing Order 45(2), a motion to report progress cannot be 311 debated or amended. Furthermore, the Sessional Order appointing the Committee of Supply typically contains the following provisions (B.C. Journals, March 1, 2018, pp. 27-8):
At fifteen minutes prior to the ordinary time fixed for adjournment of the House, the Chair of Section A will report to the House. In the event such report includes the last vote in a particular ministerial Estimate, after such report has been made to the House, the Government shall have a maximum of eight minutes, and the Official Opposition a maximum of five minutes, and all other Members (cumulatively) a maximum of three minutes to summarize the Committee debate on a particular ministerial Estimate completed, such summaries to be in the following order:
1. Other Members;
2. Opposition; and
When the Committee of Supply has completed its consideration of a vote within the estimates, it reports resolution of the vote to the Legislative Assembly.
All the reports of resolution from a Committee of Supply must subsequently be adopted by the Legislative Assembly. The Minister of Finance moves a motion to that effect as part of the financial procedures on the closing of estimates, as outlined by Practice Recommendation 10 above and in section 12.8 in this chapter.
PRACTICE RECOMMENDATION 10
1. Upon completion of consideration of all the estimates, the Chairperson will leave the Chair on motion and report the fact to the Speaker.
2. Minister of Finance will then move that the House agree with the resolutions passed in Committee of Supply.
3. The Minister of Finance will then move that the requisite amounts to make good the supply be granted to Her Majesty for the public service and other purposes from and out of the consolidated revenue fund.
4. The Minister of Finance presents the Supply Bill, and moves the usual motions.
Supply bills, also known as appropriation bills, are bills that authorize the expenditure of government funds. They are a requirement to enact the money matters that are considered in the Committee of Supply.312
Supply bills, also known as appropriation bills, are bills that authorize the expenditure of government funds.
12.8.1Types of Supply Bills
There are three types of supply bills:
1. Interim Supply: as the Main Estimates process will continue until the end of the spring sitting period, an interim supply bill is often introduced prior to the end of the fiscal year (March 31), which authorizes spending of a portion of the budget for a stated period until the consideration of the Main Estimates is completed. Interim supply has also been used on other occasions, such as when a provincial general election occurs in the spring, when the Legislative Assembly does not have the opportunity to complete the estimates process prior to the dissolution of the Legislature.
2. Final Supply: expenditure of the total of the budgetary estimates are authorized by final supply, including the amount in any interim supply act that granted funds within the same fiscal year.
3. Supplementary Supply: should the government determine that additional expenses, over and above the amount contained in the Main Estimates, are required, a supplementary supply bill is introduced to authorize those expenses. A supplementary supply bill may follow debate of Supplementary Estimates.
Final and supplementary supply bills are unique in that they enact an appropriation pursuant to a resolution of the Committee of Supply. As the details of expenditure have been determined in the Committee of Supply, the passage of these bills is considered administrative. The bills are not subject to debate and may not be amended, except to correct a drafting or typographical error. Standing Order 81 does not apply, so as to limit the number of stages that final and supplementary supply bills may pass through in one day.
In making a determination on the applicability of Standing Order 81 to the Legislative Assembly’s consideration of the final supply act, Speaker Lovick noted the following in a statement (B.C. Journals, August 15, 1996, pp. 92-3):
This House now has before it the Supply Act, 1996-97 which has been introduced and read a first time. The basic question which the Chair has had to consider is whether or not this Bill can indeed be advanced more than one stage at this time.
An examination of the Journals and Hansard of this House discloses various and, frankly, somewhat inconsistent procedures surrounding introduction and passage of the Supply Act. Because of the importance of this process, and for the guidance of the House, the Chair wishes to make some observations relating to the closing of Estimates and the final Supply Act.
Honourable Members will be aware that the final Supply Act is unique in its nature, being founded on the financial resolutions which are passed by this House immediately upon completion of the Estimates process. The first of those resolutions is the motion that the Resolutions from the Committee of Supply be now received, taken as read and agreed to. Upon passage of this motion, a second motion is moved that there be granted from and out of the consolidated revenue fund the amounts as authorized by the resolutions passed in the Committee of Supply which include the amounts authorized by earlier interim Supply Acts.
Immediately following the acceptance by the House of the two resolutions above mentioned, the Supply Act itself is introduced to the House for first reading. At this point it must be emphasized that the final Supply Act is an administrative act only, confirming and appropriating the grants previously agreed to by the motions above described. This House has spoken clearly on this matter and I refer Honourable Members to the debates of this House to be found in Hansard of July 26 and 27, 1993.
The general rule applicable to bills requiring three readings on different days does not apply to the final Supply Act for the reason that this Act is squarely founded upon resolutions from the Committee of Supply to which the House has previously agreed. In this regard, I refer Honourable Members to Erskine May’s Parliamentary Practice, 17th edition, at page 771 and I quote from this authority, in part, as follows:
All grants of supply voted by the Committee of Supply in respect of whatever estimate…after being covered by grants of ways and means, require to be authorized by legislation. It will be remembered that such bills are exempt from the operation of the “Ten o’clock rule” and that the practice of the House which forbids the transaction of more than one stage of financial business on the same day is so far relaxed in their case as to allow the committee and subsequent stages to be taken on the same day.
In light of the authorities quoted, it is the Chair’s view, that quite apart from the operation of Standing Order 81, the final Supply Act, being only an administrative act founded on resolutions passed by the House, may be advanced one or more stages in one day.
The Chair would also observe that the unique wording of our Standing Order 81 permits a bill to be read twice or thrice, or advanced two or more stages in one day on “urgent or extraordinary occasions”. It could be logically argued that the final Supply Act is a unique or extraordinary Bill, being founded on resolutions already agreed to by the House, and as such this would permit the Supply Act to qualify for three readings on one day under the authority of Standing Order 81. In light of the findings stated above, it becomes unnecessary to make this determination.
Speaker Lovick’s findings were upheld in a decision of Speaker Hartley (see B.C. Journals, September 17, 2000, p. 116). In addition, Speaker Sawicki reinforced to a Member who wished to speak at second reading that “as the Supply Act is merely an administrative rather than a legislative matter, it has not been the practice in this House to debate second reading” (B.C. Hansard, July 26, 1993, p. 9176).314
In keeping with the determination that the final supply bill is one that is administrative in nature, upon the bill’s introduction and first reading in the Legislative Assembly, the Speaker will note: “Members, the bill is being circulated. In keeping with the practice of this House, the final Supply Bill will be permitted to advance through all stages in one sitting” (B.C. Hansard, May 31, 2018, p. 5275).
12.8.2Application of Standing Order 81 to Interim Supply
Standing Order 81 has been applied with respect to interim supply on many occasions where the degree of urgency justifies more than one stage of consideration in one day (see decision of Speaker Hartley, B.C. Journals, April 2, 2000, p. 19).
Prior to 2001, the provincial Financial Administration Act authorized expenditure by special warrant when the Legislative Assembly was not sitting. A schedule listing the amounts of all special warrants issued while the Legislative Assembly was adjourned or prorogued was required to be included with the next ensuing supply bill. The schedule could be debated but was not subject to amendment (see decision of Deputy Speaker Strachan, B.C. Hansard, March 26, 1985, p. 5456).
12.8.3Final Supply Bill
Once the estimates of all ministries have been debated and approved, the Minister of Finance will move a motion that seeks to formally indicate that the Legislative Assembly agrees with the resolutions passed in the Committee of Supply. As noted in section 3 of Practice Recommendation 10: “The Minister of Finance will then move the requisite amounts to make good the supply to be granted to Her Majesty for the public service and other purposes from and out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund.”
Upon adoption by the Legislative Assembly of these motions, the Minister of Finance will present the final supply bill, which authorizes all of the voted expenditures previously approved in the Committee of Supply. The adoption of the final supply bill formally indicates that the Legislative Assembly has authorized the government to withdraw, from the Consolidated Revenue Fund, amounts up to but not exceeding those approved by the Assembly.
The last step in the appropriation process is the final supply bill, which authorizes all of the voted expenditures previously approved in the Committee of Supply.
As previously noted, the estimates on which the supply bill is based have already been examined by the Committee of Supply, and the bill is considered administrative in nature. The practice in the Legislative Assembly has been for the bill to be considered at all legislative stages on the same day, in recognition of the fact that the appropriations contained in it have already been considered and approved in the Committee of Supply.315
The final element of the parliamentary financial cycle is the review and oversight of how the government has spent public funds in the past fiscal year.
The public accounts are prepared by government under the Budget Transparency and Accountability Act (s. 9) and must be made public by August 31 following the end of the fiscal year. The Public Accounts compare government’s actual spending and financial position for the past fiscal year with the budget plan for spending presented by the Minister of Finance in the Legislative Assembly on the third Tuesday in February. They also include the Summary Financial Statements, which summarize all the financial activities within the Province of British Columbia’s reporting entity, which includes the government, Crown corporations, school districts, universities, colleges, institutes and health organizations.
The work undertaken by the Select Standing Committee on Public Accounts completes the parliamentary financial cycle of review and accountability upheld by the Legislative Assembly.
The Budget Transparency and Accountability Act (s. 9) and the Auditor General Act (s. 11(1)) require that the Auditor General of British Columbia report to the Legislative Assembly each year on the government’s Summary Financial Statements — specifically, whether the Statements are presented fairly and in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles. The Auditor General’s audit report on the Summary Financial Statements, including any qualifications or concerns, is subsequently reviewed and considered by the Select Standing Committee on Public Accounts under its terms of reference. This completes the parliamentary financial cycle of review and accountability upheld by the Legislative Assembly.
12.10Committee of Ways and Means (Defunct)
With the 1985 changes to Standing Order 60, the Committee of Ways and Means was eliminated, ending the necessity for the Budget Speech and the relevant motions to be brought to the Legislative Assembly immediately after an Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne had been adopted by the Assembly.
In keeping with the spirit of other revisions to the Standing Orders, the wording of the amended Standing Order 60 prevents the possibility of the Committee of Supply lapsing by failing to adjourn the Committee or failing to pass a motion fixing the time for the next Committee sitting.
Prior to 1985, the procedures relating to supply were often criticized for being repetitive and lengthy. The criticism was quite understandable in that those procedures, almost entirely predicated on the ancient U.K. House of Commons practice, were no longer 316 in place there but had remained virtually unchanged in British Columbia for over 100 years. Wishing to abbreviate and simplify the supply procedure, while at the same time safeguarding the prerogatives of the Crown, the Legislative Assembly, in 1985, adopted Practice Recommendation 10.
This Practice Recommendation is complementary to the elimination of the Committee of Ways and Means, and, as a result, some 18 motions formerly required to affect supply and the Committee of Ways and Means have now been eliminated. Only four motions are now required.
Standing Order 65, which required taxation and spending to initiate in a Committee of the Whole before the Legislative Assembly dealt with it collectively, was repealed in 1985. Today there is a simplified procedure in place for the introduction of bills and completion of the estimates process.
The former practice was that estimates of money required for specific purposes, as requested by the Crown, were considered in the Committee of Supply, and the methods of raising the necessary money (taxation) were considered in the Committee of Ways and Means.
When deliberations concluded in the Committee of Ways and Means, a bill was introduced to allow the Crown to raise money and to spend money.